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tv   America Tonight  Al Jazeera  December 24, 2015 10:30pm-11:01pm EST

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hmm. that's it for international news and al jazeera america, i'm david schuster. we'll be back at 11:00 p.m. eastern for a look at the day's top stories. thanks for watching. >> on "america tonight": a good trip. from party drug to a way out of the darkness? >> i was very skeptical, i just thought it was ecstasy, this party drug and something that people take and get messed up but i was going down a very bad road and didn't feel i had anything to lose at that point. >> "america tonight's" christof putzel, the use of ecstasy, can it cure ptsd? >> thank you for joining us i'm
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joie chen. ptsd, we've seen it reported so long among combat veterans, first responders and so many who have experienced trauma, the approach to treatment has improved and now what may be a surprising solution a drug best flown on the party circuit getting a second life as a good trip. so effective that "america tonight's" christof putzel found some say it saved their lives. >> m m m. >> while serving in iraq tony macy lost many of his brothers in arms. >> i was 19 when i was in iraq. i think my impression on what war is going to be was not anything to what it actually is. >> to this day, the death of his comrades and the horrors he saw remain vivid memories.
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>> we were doing dismounted troll and two guys in front of me stepped on an i everyd. just kind of really surreal, seeing someone bone up and also being two people away from it. ieds you can't do anything about. you step on them. or you are driving, it puts fear in you. when you are back home i started thinking about it more because i had more time on my hands. >> come on. >> when tony returned home to vermont the war came home with him. >> to this day if i see copper wire, it's in the back of my mind, that wire leads to an ied, a bomb. that's not normal thinking. >> like thousands of veterans tony was eventually diagnosed with ptsd. >> i would sit at night when i couldn't sleep and think about situations that happen, and how i could change them.
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instead of just accepting that they happened, and move on. the va when i got out tried different forms of therapy. they tried different medications. they did do good things trying the encourage me to get involved in the community with sports. >> did it work? >> no, it's kind of lard to get involved in sports or anything when you're on that much medication. i mean everything, sleeping pills to benzozanax, you're numb, in this in-between state. >> like many veterans in treatment for ptsd he was treatment resistant. >> it was just a matter of time before i
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oded, looking back, i don't know how i haven't. >> at times even considered ending it all. the u.s. department of of veterans affairs estimates that 22 veterans commit suicide every day. >> it's disturbing how many veterans are committing suicide. >> dr. michael midhofer is a specialist specializing in ptsd. he's seen many veterans battling the war within. >> ptsd is a big part of that and they're not getting adequate treatment. doesn't mean the people at the va aren't trying but we need better treatments. urgently. >> dr. midhoffer is trying to create that treatment. he's researching an proper, how mdma can treat ptsd.
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before m.d mdma was was discovered, the fda put it in the same class as lsd. >> i had reason to believe these kind of drugs could be good treatments because there were case reports before mdma became illegal. talking about how it was historical for psychotherapy but there were never any controlled trials. >> reporter: convincing the government to allow clinical trials was a hard sell. >> this is your brain on drugs. any questions? >> but the war on drugs, mdma was accused of a host of ills. >> this is your brain after having been on mind-altering drugs. >> experts even applied on oprah making false claims that mdma created holes in the brains of users.
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>> i thought it was unacceptable not to be researching them carefully. >> midhoffer finally got his wish, when he was asked to do a clinical trial treat ptsd. >> i was looking up alternatively treatments for ptsd, i was very skeptical, thought it was ecstasy, this party drug and something that people take and get messed up but i was going down a very bad drug and didn't feel like i had anything to lose at that point. i was extremely nervous before i started. for the first session i had to wean myself off all the medications. >> some medicines are aimed at sort of suppressing symptoms. this idea is more like instead of suppressing them really working with them. >> reporter: bringing along his dog for moral support tony was given 125 milligrams of mdma and with his dog by his side he waited for dog to take effect. >> i laid down on the futon and
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for the first hour i put eye shades on, relaxing. when the medication kicked in i went from feeling anxious, for the first time in a long time postemployment i didn't have any judgment or anxiety or what i was used to all the time. the constant thinking, it was peaceful, it was the best way to describe it. >> mdma decreases that overwhelming fear, suddenly they can revisit the trauma without being overwhelmed but still with a clear memory. kind of gives people in a few hours in what's sometimes called the optimal arousal zone where changes can happen. >> what it did was allow me to address things without judgment. i was able to think about the war. i was able to think about when i got back. it gave me a lot of closure and
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it also gave me a lot of power to -- how i can live my life from here on out. and put me back in control. >> tony says the mdma psychotherapy had another benefit. it allowed him to take back control from the drugs that had come to rule his life. >> after the mdma session i stopped taking oxycodone and after a while weaned off of everything else. >> you immediately stopped taking oxycodone? >> yes. the biggest thing with mdma session was, i'm wasting my life taking this. i don't need it for pain. >> for tony just one eight hour session of mdma assisted psychotherapy, accomplished what the va couldn't. he actually says it cured his ptsd and he's not alone. >> we've found in the studies we
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have done so far, which totals over 100 patients now, 83% had a very strong response, no longer met criteria for ptsd. >> get this straight, 83% of the people who took mdma afterwards no longer had symptoms of ptsd? >> no longer had enough symptoms to meet criteria for ptsd. of people who took mdma in conjunction with psychotherapy. >> that's an astounding number. >> it's an impressive number yes. >> tony has since gone to washington to advocate for the use of mdma for veterans in treatment for ptsd. >> do you think mdma could save a lot of vets' lives? >> yes without doubt. >> did it save your life? >> yes. i'm saying don't prescribe the for whorc anyone who has ptsd.
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but chronic treatment-resistant i believe it will have good results. >> it worked good and i know there's other people this can benefit from it. i know it's not popular, i know i'll get looked at and people will be skeptical about it. but it's the right thing to do. i'm talking about my personal experience you can't tell me i'm wrong about that. that's why i'm so passionate about it. >> christof putzel. al jazeera. >> next after the latest mass killing the pain only another victim can fully understand. what he did with his anger. later, a view from the other side. why gun owners aim to go public with their firearms. and hot on "america tonight's" website now, reaching out sharing the grief after a mass killing claims a loved one. at aljazeera.com/americatonight. >> the only live national news show at 11:00 eastern.
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>> we start with breaking news. >> let's take a closer look.
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>> following up now on the tragedy in san bernardino. even refocusing on terror threats it is an inevitable part of the conversation after a mass killing. how could someone so sick or evil to do an act like this have access to weapons? every new tragedy is a reminder that the dangerous can still be armed. "america tonight's" adam may with one survivor's story. >> the thing i always see when i kind of think it over again, and relive it a bit, is that second shot, you know, i was just down on my hands and knees, i
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couldn't move, i couldn't get up, and there was no way to get away. and he just happened to miss. >> john moffitt, a retired assistant school principal belongs to a growing group of americans, a survivor of a mass shooting. it was montana, 1986. almost three decades ago. when mass shootings, especially at schools, were still rare. >> this was 1986. december 4th, 1986. in lewistown, montana, the afternoon, early afternoon down on the bottom floor of the building when i heard this boom, ran upstairs, didn't know what it was. ran into a hallway, a short hallway, saw a student whom i recognized right away running around the corner with a gun in his hand. just a second the two of us were right next to each other.
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he shot, hit me, knocked me down. but then he did stop and he took a second shot. and he took pretty careful aim and he was probably not much more than you are from me maybe six feet away from me. and just fortunately missed. and then i think kind of panicked and wanted to get out of the building, and you know ran out. >> one of the substitute teachers died? >> yes. and i was the one that made the call to have her come in. >> the shooter christopher hans, who was 14 at the time, was upset about his grades. in all he killed one and injured three. >> this is a few months after you know getting hurt. >> moffitt lives with the scars from that day. a quarter century away, both physically and mentally. >> i got hurt badly, but i was
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the lucky one. every time something like the shooting in oregon or all of those other shootings you know over the last few years, any time it happens of course it just brings it back. i remember what my own kids went through. and -- >> what did they go through? >> my daughter was five years old at the time. and from the time of the shooting, for several years after that, every single night she had a nightmare. and the thing that she would see in that nightmare was the young man who did the shooting coming to our house and shooting all of us. and -- >> she was five? >> that is -- you know it's just incredible thinking of how a -- how a little kid who should never have to think about anything like that, you know how that impacted her life. >> moffitt is so dismayed by the rise in mass shootings across america he recently testified in favor of local gun background
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checks in missoula, montana. but he says that's far from enough. >> the last 15 or 20 years the pendulum has swung so far in terms of gun issues to the right, and if you look at it, you know, even back in 1995, there was an assault weapons ban. that's gone. there's just one attempt after another to i guess create an environment where everybody's walking around with a gun. what is the one thing that separates us from every other developed country in the world? >> what is it? >> it boils down to easy access, and in many cases, easy access by people that shouldn't have access at all to guns. it's kind of like the 800 pound gorilla in the room. and at what point do you have to
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say hey this is getting a little crazy. what's the purpose of these things? >> should we have that conversation in this country? >> well, i would hope we could. i think there's room for some balance where somebody could you know enjoy all of the things that legitimate gun owners do. and yet, keep it so the rest of the population doesn't have to worry about somebody showing up in a movie theater with an ak .47. >> "america tonight's" adam may joins us, it's been 30 years but john moffitt is really haunted whether he sees all the mass shootings today. >> and he thinks about it when he sees all the mass shootings on the television like there is now. but he tries to fight for stronger gun laws in montana, he has a responsibility to do that, to prevent other families from going through what his family went through.
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in montana in missoula, he is pushing for background checks on all gun sales in missoula montana, it continues going through hearings right now, they've made amendments but that does look like that's going too become law in montana. >> there is a story today the supreme court has just issued a nondecision of sorts, a decision not to hear a case that is important to gun control advocates. >> yes. >> and those for gun rights as well. >> sometimes it's the nondecision that people say this is a victory. so the supreme court declining to take up a case a challenge to highland park illinois's ordinance that bans assault rifles, the supreme court saying we're not going to take that up. once again the supreme court saying we're not going to take a challenge to these local gun ordinances. so it does empower places like missoula, montana to maybe go forward and try odo this in other places across the country as well.
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>> we'll see what happens next. "america tonight's" adam may. next, going public. the campaign to make their firearms visible to all. why they want open carry. and the cost of a cure. tuesday on "america tonight," three million americans have hepatitis c. a third of them may not even know it. and many cannot afford the drug that could save their lives. that's tuesday on "america tonight."
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>> every monday night. >> i lived that character. >> go one on one with america's movers and shakers. >> we will be able to see change. >> gripping... inspiring... entertaining. no topic off limits. >> 'cause i'm like, "dad, there are hookers in this house".
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>> exclusive conversations you won't find anywhere else. >> these are very vivid, human stories. >> if you have an agenda with people, you sometimes don't see the truth. >> "talk to al jazeera". monday, 6:00 eastern. only on al jazeera america. >> we've been look at gun laws and rights, as "america tonight's" adam may reported just a few minutes ago, communities across the nation are wrestling with how far the law should go in their communities. we sought out proponents to explain why. >> my name is ed levine and i'm a gun owner in virginia. >> ed levine is one of the most outspoken proponents of the virginia open carry movement. he's been a proponent of guns all his life. >> i have a shotgun, it's a mounted light.
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i'm pretty much armed 24-7, as i sit in this home someone could kick in the door, i would have alarm system going off, you always have to kind of be at the ready. >> levine has no personal experience of crime. >> my main goal is protect me. if my family is there, i'm going to protect my family. i'm not there to protect society, sometime those of us that open carry we all get together and have a dinner. we're also raffling off an ar 10 that we sold tickets for. >> i think that the right to carry a firearm is not only a god given right, it's a right from the constitution. those places that don't let you carry, i think are actually infringing or violating your rights. >> in fact if someone sells let's go to dinner, where do you want to go, there's the this great restaurant, inner harbor, let's go.
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i don't like it, but if it were in washington, d.c. ormaryland i'd love it. i absolutely feel there is a level of training that to responsibly own a firearm. i don't think the government has to set that level, that's a personal thing you have to do for yourself. i just (bleep) shot myself. >> may feel gun owners can protect themselves but the statistics of are startling. classes like this one are available all around the country. >> any questions on semi-oughts autos in general? >> my name is judy
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rudek, i'm a certified firearms instructor. i specialize in firearms safety. the only difference between those five is their length. they're all the same diameter. >> a class like this is required to carry a concealed weapon in the state. but not even this basic instruction is required to openly carry a gun in virginia. >> technically in virginia it is legal to, having never touched a firearm before in your life, go into a gun shop, purchase a handgun holster and ammo and walk done street open-carrying. it's not smart but it's legal. >> it's been about four hours of basic classroom instruction. now it's time to shoot. >> the intention of the second amendment based on what i've read and learned was to be able to defend the country against
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enemies form and domestic. how it transformed into being able to protect an individual in the family and the community, i'm not sure where that occurred but i think it's a natural progression. >> still a little high. >> she said the important part is having them close together. >> yes, with one training and with a couple rounds of shooting, not enough experience for one to carry a gun. >> you want to shoot him in the face? >> i don't believe guns are for everybody or for just anyone. i think you really have to have certain desire to wear a gun. for my personal protection i don't think i'm going to carry a weapon. >> open carriers don't have such doubts. they feel certain it's the best way to protect themselves and their families. now they want to sway public opinion.
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>> i encourage citizens to carry guns because law enforcement officers can't be everywhere all the time. i've been in law enforcement for over 24 years. the average per ratio law enforcement officer to civilian in the united states accepted number is about 1.7 tops per thousand people. do i think it's a responsible choice that a person if they're going to carry c training, absolutely. i've been since he's been born in terms that he sees it, he realizes something that his dad wears, at this point in time he can look at it but can't touch it. probably when he's about six or seven or so maybe gets an opportunity to actually fire it. >> i do feel safer carrying a gun because as a woman i do feel women are targeted because of a perceived weakness. >> as far as open carry is concerned i think that it's important because it shows gun owners to be responsible people. you know we're very normal.
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i hear all the time in the news media, that we're right wing nut cases, these slanderous words. that's not me. >> normal people but with guns. still carrying guns is not a black and white issue for everyone in the movement. some have considered the gravity of the decision that one day they might have to make. >> i don't want to shoot everyone. every morning when i put the gun on i say a prayer that i'm not going to have to use it. i'm not looking for a fight. the last thing i want to do is have to draw. but when it came to protecting it. >> sheila macvicar, ashland, virginia. >> tell us what you think at aljazeera.com/americatonight. talk to us on twitter or facebook and come back, we'll have more of "america tonight" tomorrow. >> our american story is
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written everyday. it's not always pretty, but it's real... and we show you like no-one else can. this is our american story. this is america tonight. >> welcome to al jazeera america live from new york city. i'i'm the city of ramadi has been bloody and chaotic. in chicago protesters protesting disrupted last-minute holiday shopping. and how people around the world are celebrating the arrival of christmas.

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